s It's Raining Training | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 01/12/2011         Volume. 3 No. 11   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

There is no other word for it other than depressing.
The world of pharmacy is falling on its own sword with pharmacist organisations at loggerheads with pharmacy organisations, principally the PGA.
Essentially it is wrong for a minority pharmacy organisation to dominate all others and leave in its wake some very unhappy people.
It is not a pretty sight seeing the juggernaut that is the PGA begin the process of decimation, wasting  resources in a negative fashion that ought to have been distributed more equitably.
It is neither smart or strategic to be entering into warfare when leadership would offer the more decent alternative.

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News Flash

Newsflash Updates for December 2011 & January 2012

Newsflash Updates

Regular weekly updates that supplement the regular monthly homepage edition of i2P.
Access and click on the title links that are illustrated.

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Pipeline for Dec. 2011 & Jan.2012

Pipeline Extras

A range of global and local news snippets and links that may be of interest to readers.
Pipeline Extra simply broadens the range of topics that can be concentrated in one delivery of i2P to your desktop.

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Feature Contribution


Dr John Dunlop (PGDipPharm, MPharm, DPharm(Auck), FACPP, FNZCP, FPSNZ, MCAPA)

Over the past year I have written about the need to recognize and remunerate pharmacists appropriately in order that pharmacy can take a necessary step forward in the new Millenium. Following are some points that are worthy of note.

1. In New Zealand, we now have approximately four hundred owners of pharmacies. Within this group, incomes range between $200,000 and $600,000.00. The average income for an employed pharmacist working in community pharmacy is around $65,000.00, and the salaries for young graduates in Auckland, (and Melbourne too I believe) is $24.00 per hour - around $48,000.00 per year. Not much of a reward for 5 years of study and very indicative of the value and respect placed on the employed professional by the employer!!! 

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Inquiry into the PBS – GET IT RIGHT FIRST TIME

Rollo Manning

A failing in the push for a Senate Inquiry into the 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement is recognition that the Pharmacy Guild is named in the National Health Act as the party the Government must liaise with before making decisions on fees paid to pharmacists for supply and services.
It is not the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society, the National Australian Pharmacy Students Association or APESMA - but the Pharmacy Guild.
It is therefore no wonder that the Guild is the party at the negotiating table.
An amendment to the National Health Act would be needed to change this and while there is a Clause that says another organisation can be included if it represents a majority of pharmacists this has never been tested.

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Who’s driving our Heath Robinson?

Neil Retallick

Last month I likened the community pharmacy industry to a “Heath Robinson”.
According to Wikipedia, “William Heath Robinson (signed as W. Heath Robinson, 31 May 1872 – 13 September 1944) was an English cartoonist and illustrator, best known for drawings of eccentric machines....
In the UK, the term "Heath Robinson" has entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption...”
This month I’m worried about who’s driving it.

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It's Raining Training

Barry Urquhart

Some choice.
For most business leaders and owners the next decade will provide scope for two strategic options - "hard" or "bad".
A touch of reality is needed.
It will be a daunting prospect for some. For others, who do not recognise or appreciate the unfolding marketplace there will be blissful ignorance and a shortened business life.
Among those who are "hanging on until things turn up for the better", there will be disappointment.
This is not the time to hang in our hang out.
Let me emphasise, the circumstances being confronted at present are neither cyclical nor seasonal. They are structural and accordingly, changes are essential in philosophies, operations and outputs.
The next three years will inevitably be "bad" for those who adopt a "victim mentality" and do little or nothing. Those well-reported "headwinds" will remain and will eventually push the inert (becalmed) "boats" backwards and out of the race.
Rationalisations and consolidations will be in evidence across a wide sweep of industry sectors. Established companies, brands, products and services will disappear from the corporate landscape, replaced by high-energy, and focused new applications, innovations and belief-driven entrepreneurs.
Thus from "bad" will come "good".

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Man bites dog – mongrel rules needed

Pat Gallagher

Here I am.
Back from another lengthy and self enforced break and reporting in i2P on things and matters with ICT in pharmacy-land and health generally.
It is not that I am lazy.
It is that there hasn’t been much ‘news’ happening worth getting our knickers in a knot.
It is all the same old; same old in e-health playing field and that is rather uninspiring to say the least. So I have taken the view that if there is nothing positive to say it’s best to stay stum.
But now as 2011 is coming to a rattling death perhaps there are some things worth saying, usefully or otherwise.
What is a snapshot of some of the year’s achievements in the e-health community?
Hard to say that the world is on fire with overwhelming success, but a summary of the activities that might interest the i2P reader, in some order of oomph are:

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A TGA-Managed Database of Fully Evaluated Complementary Medicines Evidence – a Real Possibility

Neil Johnston

Last month when the controversy surrounding the PGA/Blackmore’s proposed alliance brought out a large number of critics, the PGA found itself in an extremely vulnerable position.
Some criticism was well-deserved - other criticism arose from misperception surrounding the proposed alliance, while other criticism evolved surrounding the “evidence” relied on by the alliance to underpin their clinical promotion - was blown out of all proportion, or negatively criticised.
More positively, academic Dr Ken Harvey called for the TGA to manage an evidence database for complementary medicines that have had a full evaluation.

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Hypnotherapists - Hero's or heisters?

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

He spoke softly as he lifted my arm while telling me it would stay afloat.  It didn't. 
In fact, several times during the session, it fell back to my side no matter he said. 
While I felt reasonably relaxed after my first visit to a hypnotherapist, I left disappointed. 
So does hypnotherapy work and why do some of my skeptical friends support it and, more interestingly, why do they say it is part of acupuncture?

Comments: 1

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Support services for pharmacists and doctors in the United Kingdom – Part 2 Practitioner Health Programme

Kay Dunkley - BPharm, Grad Dip Hosp Pharm, Grad Dip Health Admin, MPS, MSHPA

In Australia the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS) provides a listening ear and support over the telephone to pharmacists in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory and has plans for expansion to all states of Australia.  The medical profession in Australia has a range of state based Doctors’ Health Advisory Services including the AMA Victoria Peer Support Service which provides peer support over the telephone.  Victorian is the only state to have a state based health program for doctors; the Victorian Doctors Health Program (VDHP)
Funding from the Cyril Tonkin Fellowship enabled me to undertake a study tour of services which support pharmacists and doctors in the United Kingdom (UK) in March 2011.

The aim of the visit was to find out how these services support the health and well being of pharmacists and doctors, including the services provided and how they are funded.

The support services visited were Pharmacist Support, including participation in a Listening Friends training weekend; the Royal Pharmaceutical Society; the Practitioner Health Programme; the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund; the British Medical Association Doctors for Doctors program and the National Clinical Assessment Service.  In addition to obtain background material on the environment for health professionals in the United Kingdom visits were also made to the General Pharmaceutical Council; Manchester University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Pharmacy Department of the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
This article is the second in a series reporting on my visit and will detail the services available to doctors and dentists living in London through the Practitioner Health Programme.

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Rollo Manning

The future supply of pharmacists to work in Aboriginal health is healthy if the outcome of a National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association survey is anything to go by.
While 83% of respondents felt it is important to be taught about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues as part of their pharmacy course curriculum, only 60% have access to such education. Furthermore, only half of those respondents feel they are taught enough about this topic.

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Thankful for an MRI

Mark Neuenschwander

I’ve been thinking about magnetic resonance imaging, sleeping bags, allergies, and great hospitals.
Well, I went in for an MRI, and the diagnosis was not good: Claustrophobia. But I’m getting ahead myself.
While studying x-rays of my shoulder, my doc ordered an MRI. I told him we were nearing eight on the p
ain scale and pressed for the earliest appointment.
Seven o’clock the next morning, after being scanned for metal, a rad tech strapped me to the transport board and pushed a button.
Moving into the magnetic abyss, I felt like dead man walking. Except, I couldn’t walk. But I could talk. It took about two seconds to find my authoritative voice:
She got the hint, and I was pardoned.

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The power of 'why'

Harvey Mackay

Whether you're managing a team of employees or you're on your own, remember that although what you do and how you do it are important, it's the "why" that provides real motivation to succeed.
An experiment conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business demonstrates the power of "why." 
At a university call center where employees phone alumni to solicit contributions to scholarship funds, the staff was randomly divided into three groups:  The first group read stories written by former call center employees about the benefits of the job (such as improved communication and sales skills).  The second group shared accounts from former students about how their scholarships helped them with their education, careers and lives. 
The third, a control group, read nothing, just explained the purpose of the call and asked for a contribution.

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The Farmerscy Guild and the straw man argument

Geoff March PhD B.Pharm

Straw Man “An argument deliberately put up so that it can be knocked down, usually as a distraction from other arguments which cannot be so easily countered,”  - The Macquarie Dictionary.

Comments: 2

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Kos Sclavos Superstar

Peter Sayers

It appears that pharmacists, in general, are tired of the leadership style imposed by Kos Sclavos, the incumbent president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA).
While criticism of PGA leadership style and policy has been building for some time, opposition solidified recently with formation of the Pharmacy Coalition for Health Reform – a body that boasts over 20,000 pharmacists among its membership.

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NAPSA and the PGA

Neil Johnston

Recently, i2P was sent a media release from APESMA, the pharmacist trade union.
It was embargoed until Saturday December 10, which was a point at the beginning of the i2P update cycle.
The release contained a link to an email that is alleged to have emanated from NAPSA – the National Australian Pharmacy Students' Association.
Because it was politically sensitive to that organisation and because it also contained a number of normally private contact details for their members, i2P decided to withhold the information unless it became public knowledge through other media sources - and that has happened..
The email provided the basis for published claims that the PGA was engaged in a bullying process with NAPSA to force their disengagement with the newly-formed PCHR- the Pharmacist Coalition for Health Reform, and it is hard to avoid this view when an examination of the pressures exerted by the PGA are examined in broad daylight.

Comments: 1

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Where is the Best Future Business Model for Pharmacy?

Neil Johnston

Because it is near the end of the year, I thought it appropriate to highlight one of our earlier articles published in July 2010, because it gave a foretaste of things to come -
 “The New Competitors- Wholesalers, Manufacturers, Pharmacists and Nurses”
The gist of the article was that because global pharma companies would be unable to sustain the “blockbuster” business model and that there would be only modest growth in future drug developments, an unstoppable chain reaction would begin to occur where global pharma would create a new disruptive business model that would remove wholesaler discounts and begin a process of different segments of the health services “scavenging” from each other.

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Pharmacy Needs a Peak Body

Neil Johnston

Once upon a time pharmacy was a small, typically one-person show that focussed on patients (as distinct from customers).
It was considered very bad form if a patient presented with a problem and ;
(i) they were not immediately attended to by a qualified pharmacist and;
(ii) they left the pharmacy holding a product in their hands that had not been personally compounded by the pharmacist.
Most patients asked for “their pharmacist” by name and entered into an obvious and valued pharmacist/patient relationship. The care was obvious and not substituted with branded medicines or had the patient interviews delegated to pharmacy assistants or technicians.
In other words the human relationships were respectful and this respect extended between pharmacists as a collegiate relationship.

Comments: 1

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Come to Shop – Return to Learn

Neil Johnston

I started the New Year by researching retail environments that could be adapted to pharmacy and deliver pharmacy 2012 marketing requirements, with emphasis on "professional".
When I got to the Apple retail environment, it simply jumped off the page.
This could be the most important article you read this year.
Few would realise that the title to this article is actually the slogan for Apple Retail Stores, and is in fact the base philosophy behind one of the most successful forms of retail enterprise experienced in the 21st century.
The story of the Apple retail experience has a direct translation across to the malaise that is currently being felt by most Australian pharmacists, so a brief history of the Apple company may help to illuminate a realigned direction for community pharmacy that would capitalise on its strengths and help get off the discount treadmill.

Comments: 3

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A New Escalation of Turf Wars - Is the best defence, offence?

Mark Coleman

Recently I noticed an article published in "The Conversation" authored by John Dwyer Emeritus Professor at University of New South Wales. The article opens with:

"It’s difficult enough to counter the massive amount of misleading information provided to consumers through the media and online. But the task becomes much harder when tertiary institutes give an undeserved imprimatur to pseudo disciplines by offering them as courses. Central Queensland University (CQU) is the latest to do so, announcing it will offer a Bachelor of Science degree (Chiropractic) from 2012. I’m one of thirty-four doctors, scientists and clinical academics who, in an attempt to protect health-care consumers from the dangers associated with unscientific clinical practices, have today written to the science deans at CQU urging them, as fellow academics, to reconsider this decision.
We want the deans to acknowledge the importance of our universities remaining champions of rigorous academic standards and remind them of the primacy of the evidence base for scientific conclusions and health-care practices." Read more at this link

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New Year Uncertainty

Peter Sayers

Coming up to speed after the festive break, I have been astounded at the number of community pharmacy prescription out-of-stocks, both short-term and long-term, that are mounting by the day.
This has a number of financial impacts on a community pharmacy and one assumes that the PGA has a strategy to lessen these impacts - but where is it?

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Take care of your customers or someone else will

Harvey Mackay

No business can stay in business without customers.
How customers are treated and sadly, mistreated, determines how long the doors stay open. Poor quality service has probably doomed as many businesses as poor quality products.
Enter the "guru of customer service," John Tschohl.
He earned that moniker from USA Today, Time and Entrepreneur magazines. After 31 years focused solely on customer service, he is president of Service Quality Institute, which has representatives in 40 countries.
He's authored hundreds of articles and six best-selling books. And he is willing to share his wisdom with my readers. I don't often devote so much of my column to one resource, but John is the best of the best.


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Nicola Roxon’s Parting Advice

Neil Johnston

I was thumbing through my January copy of the AJP when I noticed a small column covering a conversation with Nicola Roxon, the ex-Minister for Health and Ageing.
She, along with other commentators on the same page, was basically encouraging pharmacists to “jump in” to reform health.
The encouraged pathway was through fee for service arrangements, some of which are covered under the 5CPA.

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Big Pharma impacts on the pharmacy profession

Peter Jackson

“Staff in almost one fifth of pharmacies could be wasting more than five hours per week, the equivalent of one month's working time a year, trying to source out-of-stock medicines.”
So claims a report published in the UK newsletter Chemist & Druggist this month.
The report goes on to claim:

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Do you have the urge to speak out?

Mark Coleman

With all the change and distress that is apparent in all ranks of pharmacy at the moment, do you have the urge to lash out at someone or some organisation or just something?
All pharmacists want to evolve their version of an ethical practice, balancing some commercialism with professional core business – whether they own a pharmacy or not.
Multiple groupings of pharmacists have formed up around each special interest and this has created a range of competitive groups, some more aggressive than others, to compete for absolute dominance of pharmacy – and endeavour to create a single voice.

Comments: 1

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Drug Shortages Require Urgent Government Intervention

Neil Johnston

When something does not make sense I always find there is a political objective involved.
And underlying the politics always is the motivation of greed.
Make no mistake about it, Australian pharmacy is about to enter a period of manipulation never before experienced, and it involves supply chain manipulation by government and by Big Pharma.
It is globally orchestrated and tactics vary slightly country to country and the victims of this strategy are very ill patients and the pharmacies behind them desperately trying to bridge supply to keep them alive.

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Staff Writer

APESMA today proposed a new Terms of Reference for a Senate Inquiry into pharmacy which focuses on new potential benefits to the pharmacy profession including providing a role for pharmacists in medicare locals and GP clinics and new measures to reform the health care system.
Mr Walton said despite incorrect and mischievous claims by the Pharmacy Guild there was nothing in the Senate Inquiry before the Senate that would cause the current Community Pharmacy Agreement to cease.

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Pharmacists heading to Hobart for Medicines Management 2011, the 37th SHPA National Conference

Staff Writer

More than 850 delegates will be in Hobart this week for Medicines Management 2011, the 37th SHPA National Conference.

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SHPA commences celebration of a milestone year at Medicines Management 2011, the 37th SHPA National Conference

Staff Writer

At Medicines Management 2011, the 37th SHPA National Conference, SHPA will celebrate 50 years as a national organisation and 70 years since its inception.
In 1941, 25 pioneer pharmacists from public hospitals in Victoria first conceived SHPA, and in 1961 SHPA moved formally to become a national organisation and held its first national conference in Adelaide.

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Bill Thomson receives SHPA’s highest award

Staff Writer

Medicines Management 2011, the 37th SHPA National Conference opened today in Hobart.  With over 800 delegates, 80 presented papers and 200 posters, this year’s conference is yet another example of the enthusiasm and dedication of pharmacists in hospitals and other parts of the healthcare system to share their work and learn from their peers.

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Australian Clinical Pharmacy Award 2011 to Adelaide Pharmacist, Greg Roberts

Staff Writer

During Medicines Management 2011, the 37th SHPA National Conference, held in Hobart last weekend, the SHPA Australian Clinical Pharmacy Award for 2011 was awarded to Mr Greg Roberts, Clinical Research Pharmacist at the Repatriation General Hospital in Adelaide.

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Pharmacist Coalition for Health Reform and the call for a Senate Inquiry

Staff Writer

SHPA believes that consumer interests should be at the centre of health delivery and the health reform agenda.  SHPA members have a strong ethos of working collaboratively within interdisciplinary healthcare teams and across the continuum of care.

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NTU-led research probes potential link between cancer and a common chemical in consumer products

Staff Writer

Editor's Note: Nano-particles have been adopted by various manufacturers of consumer products because they improve absorption of their active ingredients and the cosmetic appearance of the product.
Early researchers in this field warned that conditions similar to mesothelioma may result through exposure to nano-particles and that more research is required before endangering the general public.
Very few manufacturers identify that their products contain nano-particles, but recent studies have confirmed the potential for an association with cancer.
Certainly, the least that needs to occur is a warning label, particularly as some sunscreen preparations contain zinc oxide.
It is ironical that the Australian Cancer Council promote the message of "slip, slop and slap" yet allows for another form of potential cancer exposure through the "back door" involving nano-particles in sunscreen products, including the zinc oxide identified in the following study.

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Apply First Aid – Guild Clinical 2012

Staff Writer

Guild Clinical is pleased to announce the course dates for Apply First Aid 2012.
REVIVA First Aid Training provides industry specific, highly interactive training perfect for pharmacists, graduates and pharmacy assistants.

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Award Winning NPS IPhone APP Now Includes a Medicines Reminder Function

NPS Spokesperson

No more forgetting to take your medicine! NPS has introduced a range of new features to its award-winning Medicines List iPhone app that allow people to schedule in reminders to prompt them to take their medicine.
As part of the upgrade, people can also record whether they took their medicine on time — and if not, why not, which is useful information to share when they next see their doctor.

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ASMI response to TGA reform blueprint

Bob Bowden

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) today welcomed the announcement of a series of significant reforms to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the regulation of non-prescription products.
The measures will impact areas including product advertising and promotion, regulation of complementary medicines, and the transparency of TGA decision-making.

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New test to indicate likely spread or recurrence of breast cancer

Staff Writer

A Queensland University of Technology (QUT) PhD student has developed a potential breakthrough test for predicting the likelihood of the spread or return of breast cancer.
"While in recent years there have been fantastic advances in the treatment of breast cancer there has been no way of predicting its progress," said Helen McCosker, a PhD student at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI).

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PSA Releases Guidance For Pharmacists Using Internet and Social Media

Staff Writer

In our July edition of i2P, Kay Dunkley wrote an excellent article relating to social media and its use by health professionals. In that article Kay noted:
The Medical Journal of Australia recently published an excellent article on the topic of social media and the medical profession. It was this article that prompted me to write this opinion piece and I recommend that it should be read by all health professionals who are users of social media. I believe that many of the issues raised for medical practitioners are equally applicable to pharmacists and other health professionals. That article can be found at http://www.mja.com.au/publicissues/194_12_200611/man10874_fm.html

Now the PSA have weighed in with an official version for pharmacists.

Comments: 1

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Athletes warming up incorrectly

Staff Writer

Dynamic warm-ups included range of motion activities like high-knee raises, leg swings and run-throughs or change of direction tasks.
Mr Zois said the study proved that, from a power point of view, static stretching was worse than no warm up at all.

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Last Pre-Christmas News Roundup- APESMA - Australian Prescriber - NSW Guild - NPS on Methotrexate - PSA - Competency Tool

Staff Writer

i2P news and articles will continue to be published weekly over the Christmas/New Year period, but not quite so "in-depth".
You are invited to explore the recent archives of i2P when you begin to plan for the coming year.
We also encourage you to post comments at the foot of each published item.
i2P knows that the coming year will be more challenging than in previous years.
It will be a year of sorting out priorities - those within the industry wishing to needlessly fight to prop up inappropriate structures will be seen to waste time and resources.
They will be judged harshly by participants at the "coalface"- the silent majority.

i2P hopes that all of its subscribers have a peaceful and safe festive season.

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No Deaths from Vitamins - America's Largest Database Confirms Supplement Safety

Staff Writer

The following news item from Orthomolecular.org adds one more dimension to the debate on nutritional supplements. It seems that safety is definitely not an issue where nutritional supplements are used.

Comments: 3

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Multiple medicines may double fall rate for young and middle aged

Staff Writer

Editor's Note: In Australia, criteria for generating a medication review includes a patient currently taking five or more regular medicines or taking more than 12 doses of medicine per day.
Patient falls are a major reason for patients being admitted to a hospital and quite commonly, patients are further damaged through falls while they are already in a hospital.
The system currently requires a referral by a GP to an accredited pharmacist, which is a slow and cumbersome (sometimes very unrewarding) process.

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Pharmedia: Academic Manipulation & the Growth of "Junk Science"

Neil Johnston

Editor"s Note: Global Pharma has an unusual and pervasive influence on politicians, regulators and statutory bodies around the globe.
I’ve always had a philosophy of recognising that when things do not go as they are supposed to, first look at the surrounding politics and then follow the money trail.
In the US the main regulator for drug registration and marketing is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which has come under greater scrutiny by industry commentators because of seemingly corrupt and improper decisions increasingly made in favour of drug manufacturers.

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Does the PGA Really Represent its Members

Neil Johnston

This month we have selected a media story that appeared in Pharmacy News on the 3 November 2011, and it is story of the continuing saga of direct distribution by Pfizer.
The bigger story underneath is - what is the Pharmacy Guild of Australia doing to represent its members in this ongoing dispute?
i2P has covered the direct distribution saga since its inception here in Australia.
The problem seems to be worsening rather than improving, so we have asked Mark Coleman to comment.
His comments appear below the media item that follows.

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It's Raining Training

Barry Urquhart

articles by this author...

Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus, Perth. Barry is an internationally recognised conference keynote speaker, facilitator of strategic planning workshops and marketing business coach.
Contact Barry: TEL:61 8 9257 1777 - EMAIL: urquhart@marketingfocus.net.au -
WEB: www.marketingfocus.net.au

Some choice.
For most business leaders and owners the next decade will provide scope for two strategic options - "hard" or "bad".
A touch of reality is needed.
It will be a daunting prospect for some. For others, who do not recognise or appreciate the unfolding marketplace there will be blissful ignorance and a shortened business life.
Among those who are "hanging on until things turn up for the better", there will be disappointment.
This is not the time to hang in our hang out.
Let me emphasise, the circumstances being confronted at present are neither cyclical nor seasonal. They are structural and accordingly, changes are essential in philosophies, operations and outputs.
The next three years will inevitably be "bad" for those who adopt a "victim mentality" and do little or nothing. Those well-reported "headwinds" will remain and will eventually push the inert (becalmed) "boats" backwards and out of the race.
Rationalisations and consolidations will be in evidence across a wide sweep of industry sectors. Established companies, brands, products and services will disappear from the corporate landscape, replaced by high-energy, and focused new applications, innovations and belief-driven entrepreneurs.
Thus from "bad" will come "good".

open this article full screen

The winners in the immediate future will be those who recognise, analyse and adapt to hard times of a strained economy, financially prudent clients and discerning customers. Hard decisions are needed now and will need to be taken in the immediate future. Nothing will be sacred. All things will need to be under scrutiny and review.

The "bad" news for the Labor Federal Government, for union leaders, legislators and regulators per se will be that flexibility will be both an imperative and a virtue. In short, Fair Work Australia will need appreciable and sustainable changes. Individual workplace agreements should not be issues that Tony Abbott and the Federal Coalition Opposition recoil from.

The nation, the regional and the global communities are crying out for leadership, competence and flexibility.

Sadly, very little or none of those attributes are conspicuous or readily available in Australia at this time.


The decision by Qantas Chief Executive, Alan Joyce, to ground the airline's entire fleet of 108 aircraft on Saturday 29 October, was a prime example of a "hard" decision.

Arguably, more interesting are the brand management implications of the decision itself, its timing and the manner in which it was implemented.

In one decisive action a senior executive changed the market perception of the image, attributes, characteristics and promises of the Qantas brand. Until recent years the word most associated with Qantas in the corporate and retail markets was "SAFE". That was underwritten and highlighted by the script of the movie "Rain Man", which starred Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.

Qantas enjoyed substantial and unparalleled international publicity and goodwill from its exposure in the movie.

How fast things change. With the recent union-initiated disruptions and the grounding of the fleet, the word now most associated with Qantas will understandably be, "RISK".

Corporations, individuals, families and professional associations will be justified in questioning whether they are prepared to take the risk to book with Qantas, and whether Qantas will indeed be flying on their preferred and important dates.
The consequences will not be short-term. Qantas will need to develop, progressively implement, refine and upgrade an integrated strategy to address and redress this issue of brand management.

How ironic-:Barry Urquhart will shortly address conferences in Melbourne and Sydney for a franchise network and the retail distribution network of an international branded product on the topic of creative and disciplined brand management. Not surprisingly, he will not be flying Qantas.


Disturbing. Ill-advised. Inappropriate.

Each is a justifiable conclusion for a statement that is all too commonly expressed at this time, by some in business:

"I'm hanging on until things pick up and return to normal".

Let me add one more conclusion.
The current market is the new normal.

American business people, from the senior management teams of Walmart, to those leading Target, Mobil-Exxon, American Airlines and countless others have recognised, isolated, analysed, accepted and are now striving to service and satisfy the "forever frugal" consumer.

I personally believe the label "forever frugal" is misleading.
It is by nature a relative statement, implying a change from the spend-thrift consumers of the pre-GFC boom period of (2002 -2008).
That implies the prospect and probability of a return to the buoyant times sometime in the near future.

The current marketplace is the reality and is a consequence of the structural changes to society, commerce, communities, families and individuals as a result of the GFC.
It will be a long time, if ever, that "the good old days" will return.

In short, financially prudent consumers are the norm.
Conspicuous consumption has been replaced with a new badge of honour, "conspicuous frugalism". Prudence is, and possibly always has been, a virtue. Dissenting voices from Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy are acknowledged...- and dismissed.

Therefore, 2011 should be considered to be Year Zero for business people, (with no connotations to Cambodia/Kampuchea).
All that has gone before bears little relevance to the present and the near future.

The future will not be a linear extension of the past.
New rules, philosophies, practices and business models need to be formulated, documented and implemented.

In short, stop hanging on. Do something!


The pending Christmas-New Year holiday period is shaping up to be a period for strategic planning and marketing audits for a diverse range of businesses, business associations and marketing networks.

An attitude of "Can-Do" and "Must-Do" is evident among leaders who are keen to assume and maintain control of their respective circumstances and futures.

We at Marketing Focus are encouraged by the number of briefs received in recent weeks for the facilitation of interactive business development workshops, strategic planning sessions and Board of Directors reviews, together with the conduct of concise high-impact three hour marketing audits for the period November to February.

No sector or size of business appears to be immune to this momentum which reflects a recognition and desire to invoke change, innovation and assertiveness into differing marketplaces.

If we are able to contribute to your endeavours, do make contact.

Barry Urquhart

Marketing Focus

Mobile:                   041 983 5555

Tel:                         (08) 9257 1777

Email:                     Urquhart@marketingfocus.net.au



A great train of thinking.

To train or not to train. That is not a question. It is a dividing line, between those who will strive and thrive, and those who will wilt and fade away.

There is growing evidence that investing in training is one effective avenue to develop business and to counter depressing levels of sales and revenue leakage.

There have been many lessons learnt since the onset of the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) in August 2008. Among those are:


* Price discounting is ineffective in achieving sustainable sales increases.

* Sales events have themselves been discounted in value and integrity.

* Bargain pricing has inflicted irreparable damage to many brand names.

* Reduced inventory and staff numbers have made conspicuous impacts on customer service standards.

* Customer loyalty cannot and will not be "bought" by loyalty card points.
* On-going multi-channel communications between businesses and customers are imperatives, not options. (Hello! on-line and social media.)

* The rate of change and innovations is increasing.

* "New" and "local" have become the black in marketing.

* The cornerstone for establishing, maintaining and developing relationships with existing, prospective and (yes) past customers is PERSONAL.

It is these points and more that constitute the parameters and framework within which truly effective training must be formulated, documented, implemented and supported. 


The findings of a recent comprehensive study of some 2000 chief executives of companies and departments throughout North America, Europe and Australia by an international finance group were stark and compelling.

Some 62% of respondents nominated internal and external customer service as the primary need for training and enhancement. A total of 43% contended "corporate culture" was an area of concern and in need of improvement.

Both those factors rated higher in the priority listing than the wish and need to improve "productivity". 

On balance, upgraded customer service standards and an enhanced corporate culture will and do inevitably lead to greater cohesion, pride, self motivation and productivity.

Clearly, it is important to look closely at and respect the importance and value of the "bottom line" in preference to a single focus on the top line.

Most sobering were the conclusions of those chief executives who participated in the study. Some 71% stated it was difficult if not impossible to quantify any increases in customer satisfaction, sales, profits and productivity as a direct result of recent training activities. Some 18% believed there had been "marginal" or short-term improvements in performance standards.

Just 9% of respondents concluded that training in customer service and corporate culture effected and sustained significant enhancements. (Note: 2% did not respond). The lesson here is that the "right" training, to the "right" people by the "right" trainer, for the "right" reasons and the "right" desired outcomes is essential.


Business leaders who have decided upon and are committed to undertaking training to address the prevailing market-forces and to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage are to be applauded.

However, the findings of the study among their 2000 corporate peers are worthy of reflection. 

Training in and of itself is not the answer.
The keys to effective people and skills development are numerous, complex and integrated. 

At a recent public event in Australia an executive from a public listed training company proudly declared his accredited and registered training group was most effective in securing government funding for the training of client company staff-members.

Subsequent detailed and specific probing about the skills of the trainers and their comprehension of the diverse aspects of service excellence and positive corporate culture revealed a disturbing and significant inadequacy in skills and knowledge.

This was another case of waste in terms of money, time and resources - soothed somewhat by the realisation that it would be government funded. As if Australia needs more government waste!

Another case study is equally enlightening. An international hotel group sought training in customer service for its high-turnover, typically casual and part-time hospitality service providers.

It transpired that the female executive who initiated the approach was not qualified or experienced in Human Resources Management or training. She appeared to have little or no authority and would need to refer all matters requiring decisions to an unnamed senior executive.

The two hotel brands had no formal job specifications (which detail the human attributes necessary to fulfil differing employment duties and functions), no formalised induction procedures, little structured or scheduled and customised training programs for individuals, groups or departments, and no infrastructure to support, reinforce and complement any training undertaken.

The professional trainer who had extensive skills and experience in consulting to businesses and conducting interactive workshops on corporate culture and quality customer service was then advised he would not be paid a set professional fee. Remuneration would be a percentage of the increase in sales revenue from those hotel departments whose staff-members would be involved in the integrated and structured training schedule.

The negotiations ceased immediately.

In the first instance, the value of the professional consultant was not recognised or quantified. Secondly, how could a trainer have faith in the ability of a hotel group which was so evidently deficient? This was not training in customer service or corporate culture. Rather, it was un-abased drive to improve the sales closure skills of staff-members.

Moreover, the activities were ill-focused.

The most immediate training needs lie within the ranks of senior executives.


Corporate executives and professional external and internal training experts who seek, expect and, indeed, demand successful outcomes in their training activities, especially relating to customer service excellence, need to progressively address the following issues:


Ensure that the overriding corporate culture (both formal and informal) is understood by all people, is documented, verbalised, respected and adhered to. In essence, the corporate culture is an expression of the personality of an entity. A fun learning experience is to have team-members express the culture of which they are part in terms of humanoid characteristics.

It is and can be a revealing exercise.


Each company should review and refine carefully JOB DESCRIPTIONS (detailing the duties to be undertaken, the authorities to be exercised and the responsibilities which are assigned to each position).

Job descriptions should be cross-referenced to each JOB SPECIFICATION (the human attributes necessary for the performance of each position to be fulfilled).

Care must be taken in the differing phases of recruitment to recognise that fewer than 24% of adult Australians have an appropriate psychological profile to be an effective, efficient and engaging service provider.

NOTE: Promotion of the above listed factors is an excellent means to generate interest in employment by the best available recruitment prospects, who are typically keen to be involved with the best employer.


A comprehensive, disciplined induction procedure develops an appreciation of the values and nature of an entity.

The first step to achieving higher planes of customer service standards is for team-members to think and state: "I understand".

Full understanding of the interdependence of positions, departments and duties contributes to optimal outcomes of customer satisfaction and productivity.


It is imperative that each training experience be customised, that the training objectives be defined and shared, as well as the commitment of each participant be secured from the outset.

"Singing from the same hymn book" has a certain harmony about it.

Understanding WHY the specific training is being undertaken is an imperative prerequisite if the WHAT and the HOW are to be embraced and subsequently implemented.


Rightly or wrongly, to greater and lesser extents, each individual believes that he or she has much to contribute to the training exercise.

Everyone should be given the scope and opportunity to provide input, analysis and to give connection to the jointly determined outputs.


The initial euphoria, motivations and aspirations which flow from training programs are usually extinguished within 72 hours, three weeks or six weeks, unless benchmarks are set, monitoring processes are installed, on-going feedback is provided and regular refinements are encouraged. 

External trainers, catalysts and change facilitators need to be complemented with internal project leaders, or "Concept Champions".

The best results are achieved and maintained when someone is assigned the authority and delegated the responsibility to ensure focus, cohesion and commitment are retained.


Now for the relatively easy part...that of conducting the training. The sentiment correctly reflects the importance of planning, research, preparation and selection.

One final checklist


* Right training

* Right people

* Right trainer

* Right reasons

* Right outcomes



Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus is a business strategist, an analyst and an International conference keynote speaker. His latest presentation is:-

"Insights on 'The Big Picture'

- Future-Proof Your Business" 

Office:           (08) 9257 1777

Mob:             041 983 5555

Email:           Urquhart@marketingfocus.net.au

Website:       www.marketingfocus.net.au

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